CORMORANTS: RAPACIOUS PESCATARIAN SEA-RAVENS
Cormorants are strange creatures. Strange to look at. Strange in their relationship with humans – love / hate in fishing terms and good / evil in mythology. Strangely useless for poetry, since – like the words ‘purple’ and ‘orange’ – there is no pure rhyme for the word cormorant. But they are undeniably striking, and a cormorant on the Abaco Marls effortlessly gliding inches above the water is an impressive sight.
The cormorant’s name originates from the Latin name ‘Corvus Marinus’, the Sea Raven. Cormorants belong to the ‘Pelican’ order of birds known as the pelecaniformes that also encompasses tropicbirds, frigatebirds and anhingas. Worldwide, there are around 40 different species of cormorant. In many parts of the world, this seabird has established itself inland. Angling communities are increasingly concerned by the spread of this bird along productive fishing rivers, often far from the sea shore. In the UK as elsewhere they are very bad news for prime fishing rivers.
Splosh! Gull Photobomb! It wasn’t there when I decided to press the trigger…Itchy neck? You just have to scratch it…Relaxed now, thanks…
The birds here were photographed in the UK on Halloween. While the world was preparing to immerse up to its neck in blood, guts, gore and spider webs, I was out armed only with a camera in unseasonably warm sunshine. So these are Great Cormorants Phalacrocorax carbo, the species found in the UK. They a remarkably similar to the Double-crested Cormorants Phalacrocorax auritus found on Abaco but larger and with a pale cheek and upper neck. This was a perfect day for the cormorants to enjoy their preening and wing-drying routines.
Last sight of the one on the small rock: “Hey, photographer, for !@£$%&* sake leave me alone, ok?”
I will be writing about Neotopic Cormorants Phalacrocorax brasilianus on Abaco in detail soon, but for comparative purposes here is one from Bruce Hallett taken on Teasure Cay Golf Course, where the ponds are usually a productive birding resource (check in at the clubhouse for permission first).
And as for the very familiar double-crested cormorant, here is a great photo taken on Abaco by Jim Todd of three chicks growing up fast in their unusual double-decker nest…
Credits: All photos RH except the last 2, Bruce Hallett and Jim Todd
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Excellent post yet again RH – I love cormorants and do not understand fishermen who hate them… To me they are a sign of healthy fish populations in a clean ecosystem and the fish I try to catch are usually larger than their prey 😉 best regards as always – metiefly
Thank you, it was fun to put together! We see Hawksbills out on the flats sometimes, but I’d love to see one underwater (me, I mean). The whole cormorant / goosander / predation / kill licence thing is fraught… but I do see that in some rivers large hungry inland seabirds may make a difference when added to the herons, egrets etc that are meant to be there! And the fish I usually manage to catch are a light snack for a cormorant! All the best, RH
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what a cracker – I love watching them dry their wings
Thanks Scott. I watched these birds for ages, and also the black-headed gulls all round them making the most of the warm sun with some quality splashing and preening. As is the way, I took dozens of photos and deleted 90% – thank goodness for the digital camera revolution! RH
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I enjoyed the photos as always, RH, and had a fun chuckle with the photobomb. Thank you. 😀
And I enjoyed your comment, as always, Jet! This was a great morning for watching birds enjoying the warm sunshine. Preening cormorants and bathing gulls made a great combination to watch! RH